The Iranian government arrested scores of Kurdish civilians in Rojhelat this week following the historic “yes” vote for Kurdish independence on Monday.
The Democratic Party of Iranian Kurdistan (PDKI) and the Kurdistan Human Rights Network (KHRN), two Iranian-Kurdish political parties, said that “Iranian intelligence and security forces have set up a joint command center ‘for the purpose of identifying and arresting the organizers of the demonstrations,'” according to Rudaw.
“Iranian state television on Tuesday acknowledged the rallies, a rarity in the Islamic Republic broadcast,” KHRN said. Furthermore, KHRN noted that Iran’s Revolutionary Guards and regular armed forces were carrying out military exercises near the Kurdistan border.
The Iranian Kurds were reportedly waving the flag of Kurdistan, chanting “Biji Kurdistan!” (“Long live Kurdistan!”) and singing the Kurdish national anthem. Flying the Kurdistan flag and singing the national anthem are forbidden in Iran.
Kurdistan 24 posted video of Kurds celebrating in the city of Baneh:
According to Rudaw, “One of the biggest parties was held in the city of Sanandaj,” where nearly 20,000 people participated.
Following the historic election, Hazhar, a citizen from Bokan, told Rudaw, “Bokan is overwhelmed with happiness. People themselves are holding parties. What you see [are] people expressing their happiness. It is the first time we express our feelings without fear.”
Locals confirmed to Kurdistan24 that the Internet had been cut off days following the independence referendum.
The Iranian regime has cut off the Internet on several occasions to block online and social media access.
Israel appears to be the only country to recognize the Iraq Kurdistan referendum.
The United States Department of State said it was concerned about Kurdish independence before the ultimate defeat of the Islamic State in Iraq.
In a statement issued this week, U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said, “The United States does not recognize the Kurdistan Regional Government’s unilateral referendum held on Monday. The vote and the results lack legitimacy and we continue to support a united, federal, democratic and prosperous Iraq.”
On Thursday, former U.N. Ambassador John Bolton said the United States should support Iraqi independence.
“The Kurds are one of the largest ethnic groups in the world that has never had a nation in contemporary times,” Bolton reportedly said. “Just two days ago, they held a referendum in Iraqi Kurdistan and voted well over 90 percent for independence. I think the United States should support independence for the Kurds. They’ve been friends of ours in the struggle against Saddam Hussein and the struggle against international terrorism. I think they’d be an important buffer against Iran.”